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A Novel Reporter Mouse Uncovers Endogenous Brn3b Expression


Brn3b (Pou4f2) is a class-4 POU domain transcription factor known to play central roles in the development of different neuronal populations of the Central Nervous System, including retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), the neurons that connect the retina with the visual centers of the brain. Here, we have used CRISPR-based genetic engineering to generate a Brn3b-mCherry reporter mouse without altering the endogenous expression of Brn3b. In our mouse line, mCherry faithfully recapitulates normal Brn3b expression in the retina, the optic tracts, the midbrain tectum, and the trigeminal ganglia. The high sensitivity of mCherry also revealed novel expression of Brn3b in the neuroectodermal cells of the optic stalk during early stages of eye development. Importantly, the fluorescent intensity of Brn3b-mCherry in our reporter mice allows for noninvasive live imaging of RGCs using Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscopy (SLO), providing a novel tool for longitudinal monitoring of RGCs.

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